Thriller focuses on tension and terror

Dangerous Obsession, by N.J.Crisp, The Jill Freud Company, St Edmunds Hall, Southwold until July 31 and Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh August 3 - 7.

Despite its great title, this is by no means one of the best thriller scripts to have emerged from the English-speaking world but the actors in this fast-paced production work their socks off to exploit every opportunity for tension and terror.

The peace of late afternoon in Mark and Sally Driscoll’s luxury pad is disturbed by the arrival of an acquaintance from a weekend on the coast. Polite but strained conversation soon turns to terror as the quietly deranged visitor, John Barrett, proceeds to set out his grievance, peeling away layer upon predictable layer of deceit.

But the performances by the three actors could not be faulted - they were uniformly terrific and fully deserved the roaring ovation from a first night audience in the sweltering hothouse which is a packed St Edmunds Hall on a summer’s evening..

Louise Shuttleworth’s fine, thoughtful portrayal of Sally was that of a woman who had come to terms with the disappointments of her life, irritated and uneasy about Barrett’s entry but soon willing to ask her husband to listen to the visitor’s so far unexplained business. As the “business” is set out and violence threatened, her terror turns to renewed disillusionment and hurt as a web of domestic lies is slowly revealed.

Charles Davies, as Mark, was superb as the home-from-work-husband who finds the start of his weekend disrupted by a “boring” and uninvited visitor. Contempt and hostility soon break through the fa�ade of polite chit-chat but the bumptious businessman is gradually reduced to a weak and quivering wreck as the story unfolds.

Paul Mooney was utterly convincing as Barrett, a “nobody” whose mundane, suburban life has been devastated and who demands a rough form of justice in recompense. Mooney created a creepy but strangely likeable character, gently mannered and vulnerable on the outside but determined, sinister, unstable and vengeful underneath.

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This was a very focused performance by three actors who know their craft.

Director, Phil Clark, and his cast rose to a difficult challenge in maintaining a high level of tension over a long period. That success was achieved was undoubtedly due to great teamwork.

The quality of this production is enhanced by a set designed by Maurice Rubens and lighting by Ben Payne.

David Green

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